It's the late summer of 1793 in Philadelphia, and fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook helps her widowed mother and her grandfather run a coffehouse. Mattie resents her strict mother and dreams of expanding the coffeehouse and becoming wealthy. But her mother seems determined to find a wealthy young man to marry Mattie off to. But all of Mattie's concerns soon seem petty when an epidemic of yellow fever begins to spread throughout the city. Mattie's own mother falls ill and sends Mattie and her grandfather to stay on a farm in the countryside, where she hopes they will be safe. But they are turned away and forced to return to Philadelphia when a doctor mistakes her grandfather's cough for yellow fever. Mattie comes down with the fever and nearly dies, but is nursed back to health in a temporary hospital. But she and her grandfather return to the coffeehouse to find that Mattie's mother has vanished. They try to settle back into a normal routine, but a sudden tragedy soon leaves Mattie on her own. Now, in a world turned upside down, in a ghost city a shadow of its former self, Mattie must keep herself alive and care for a little girl orphaned by the epidemic. This was an excellant historical novel that brought to life the epidemic. Through Mattie's first-person narration, I became immersed in the daily events of her life and her fight for survival. Highly reccomended.
on June 9, 2003
This is a fascinating account of a devastating fever epidemic in Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States, in 1793. Nearly overnight-- people contract the disease and die within the hour-- Mattie's life goes from being a slightly overworked teenage daughter of a proprietor of a successful coffee house, to a young woman struggling to survive in a city that's taken on the bleakness of a Mad Max film.
Yet somehow we never come as close to Mattie as we might, or as we do with the main character in Anderson's SPEAK. Mattie's thoughts are so much on survival and on food that at times the book feels a bit like a travelogue of a disaster. Salvation, when it comes, also seems abrupt. In the end, this is a quick way to get an immediate feel for a terrible time in history, but although we are told a lot about Mattie, her family, her hopes and dreams, somehow she stays elusive. Emotionally, the book is a little disappointing, but it's still well worth a read.
in a sentence or two: it's 1793 in Philadelphia, and a mysterious fever is said to be killing people without mercy. the murmurings of yellow fever come to fruition when 15 year old Mattie's mom is struck ill with a fever that drives her crazy and gives her eyes a horrid yellow tinge.
Mattie, her mom, their cook Eliza and Mattie's grandpa run a coffeehouse in Philadelphia. grandpa served under the great General Washington and likes to fill her days sharing stories, sneaking her candy, and being overall supportive and encouraging. her dad died from a fall off a ladder which left her mom understandably saddened and bitter, very much unlike the soft and comforting woman she used to be. their life at the coffeehouse provides a good deal of gossip off the street about the fever, however, their first awareness is when their beloved scullery maid and friend of Mattie dies suddenly in her home.
the book is the journey of Mattie and her family in their attempts to avoid the yellow fever. the fear that people felt from not knowing how to prevent the spreading of the disease or what to do when it struck is strongly delivered by Anderson. the differing opinions of doctors, the despair, and the struggle to keep going when everything seems hopeless flood this book with rich emotions.
i was impressed with Mattie's voice as the narrator. as a 15 year old, she's in that awkward phase somewhere between being a girl to being a woman, which adds a blend of insecurity and determination that fits perfectly with the surrounding circumstances of the rest of the story. i didn't think i was getting too sucked in to the emotions until i was bawling in the middle when someone died...then i realized how captivating this book was.
something i really appreciated was at the end of the book when Anderson answers some questions like "did the epidemic really happen" and "where are they buried" as well as the real life counterparts of the names she uses in the book. as a piece of historical fiction, i thought this complimented the read well. while Mattie and fam aren't necessarily real characters, they certainly represent one of the situations that many people faced during that time.
if you're looking for a solid hist-fic read with a wide range of developed emotions (including a little romance), great plot, a compassionate voice, with more-than-a-dash of historical accuracy in the form of events and language, this is for you.
fave quote: "They told of a small child huddled around the body of her dead mother. As volunteers placed the mother in a coffin, the child had cried out, 'Why are you putting Mamma in that box?' They had to turn the child over to a neighbor and take the mother away for burial. They told of the dying man who pulled himself to the window of his bedchamber and begged people to bring him a drink of water. Many passed by, hurrying away from the sound of his voice, until a brave soul entered the house to help him. They told of thieves who crept in and stole jewelry off the dead and dying. They told of good people who refused to take any money for helping strangers, even though they themselves were poor and near destitute...They told of terror: patients who had tried to jump out of windows when the fever robbed their reason, screams that pierced the night, people who were buried alive, parents praying to die after burying their children." (105-106)
fix er up: i would have liked more development with Mattie's love interest, Nathaniel. though the lack of it didn't hurt the book at all, and in fact now that i think about it, keeping it on the back burner of the plot makes sense. i'm just nitpicking.
on August 27, 2001
"Fever 1793" is about a fourteen-year-old girl named Mattie who lives in Philadelphia in, you guessed it, 1793. She and her mom and grandfather run a coffeehouse. Mattie starts out as a pretty ordinary girl, but then the yellow fever epidemic strikes and thousands become ill. Mattie gets sick, but survives. Her mother disappears. In running the coffeehouse by herself, and tending to the sick and dying, Mattie grows up in just a few months to become a right proper responsible young woman. I actually liked the beginning best. Mattie's voice was quite sardonic. "By the time they had me tightened, pinned, and locked into my clothes, I could feel my stomach rubbing against my backbone." The book was funny and sad at the same time. I hope Ms. Anderson continues to write novels as good as this!
on January 6, 2013
I originally wanted to read this with my students, and it was recommended to me by a colleauge. However, I found it very dry and a dragged out story. I think it would bore my students, even with the interesting background of the Yellow Fever in Pennsylvania.
on April 12, 2001
Fever, 1793 brings the sorrowful time in Philadelphia when Yellow Fever devastated the city, to life in a compelling manner. You see the sights of the ravished market,docks, and shops, smell the stench of the dead and dying, feel the despair of those waiting and watching and struggle right along with Mattie as she copes with the loss of her grandfather, the fear that her missing mother may be dead,and her determination to reach out to others and survive.Mattie's spirit brings hope and joy in a terrible time. I could not put this book down.
A librarian from Bucks County
on October 8, 2013
I never read YA. I didn't even knew it existed until I joined Google plus. I love historical fiction and buy almost everything I can get my hands on. I purchase, not by review, but by cover art. The cover interested me, and it wasn't until I read the first paragraph that I realized this was written for YA. What a great book!
Anderson captures your attention from the first page and weaves a gripping story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. She highlights characters from all walks of life, a grandfather, an African American, rich, middle class, poor. Captivating the sights and smells of the times, she weaves an i=engrossing tale of what life was like in colonial times. Building tension, she creates an atmosphere of fear and then hopelessness of the epidemic. A realistic read, it is timeless and should be required reading for any teen.
She deserved the award she received!
on July 7, 2004
Author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson writes her amazing historical fiction book, Fever 1793 about a teenage girl named Matilda a.k.a. Mattie who faces difficulty and fights for her life. The story is written really well and Laurie Halse Anderson does a good job making Matilda sound like a girl in the 18th century. In Fever 1793 the bonds of friendship and love is written really well.
16 year-old Matilda Cook's mother and grandfather owns a popular coffee shop on High Street. Mattie was a lazy girl with a comfortable and plain life. Her whole life changes when the yellow fever epidemic arrives in Philadelphia. Her mother caught the fever and sends Matilda and her grandfather away to be safe. They leave Philadelphia and on their way both Matilda and her grandfather catches yellow fever. So much happens like the death of Mattie's grandfather and her mother goes missing. The epidemic kills thousands of people. When winter comes the epidemic ends. The fever might have ended but the bad memories are still there.
The epidemic caused Mattie to change a lot. She was a lazy girl in the beginning of the book but then she became more responsible and strong. The character shift that Laurie Halse Anderson did was really good.
I had read her other book Speak and thought it was an ok book. But Fever 1973 is one of the best books I've ever read. This book was written I such a way that it is hard to put down. Anderson makes you want to keep reading. I read this book in 3 days and couldn't put it down. I never knew historical fiction could be so fun to read.
Fever 1793 is written so well. I couldn't find any downside besides the fact that I thought the beginning was boring, other than that it was perfect. This book really gives you a picture of the 18th century. This book was not only fun to read but it also was educational. These are two qualities that make the book great.
on October 15, 2003
Fever is a book, which takes place in 1793, just after the American Revolution. Yellow Fever spreads throughout the cities, including Philadelphia, where Mattie Cook lives. Mattie and her grandfather flee the city, and try to escape into the country where the air is clean. They are stranded in the country after being thrown out of a wagon, and have to survive with the conditions they are living in. This book includes many thrilling, and frightening obstacles that Mattie has to overcome.
It also made me think about how far we have come with medicine, and cures. Back in 1793 they thought that bleeding people was the right way to cure people of sicknesses. It turns out that bleeding people eventually kills them. We are very lucky to have the intelligence we have now.
I also like this book because helped me understand what it would have been like in a 14 year olds mind when all of the chaos was happening. The book expresses Mattie's feelings and helps you understand what kind of things she was going through.
I would definitly recommend this book to people 10 and older, or anyone who wants to read a book that is adventurous but factual at the same time.
on July 21, 2002
This work of historical fiction captures the life of a young girl, Mattie Cook, and her family during the Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Disease spreads rapidly destroying lives and futures. When Mattie's mother succumbs to the fever, she insists that Mattie leave the city with her grandfather. Their journey to the countryside goes amiss and Mattie must rely on her own wits to survive in a city turned frantic from disease. Expertly researched, Anderson describes the desperate attempts at cures by primitive medical experts and the populace at the time. She vividly captures the peoples' fear, loss and helplessness (nearly 5,000 people, or roughly 10% of the city's population died). Anderson's descriptions of afternoon tea, the sites and sounds of outdoor markets, coffee houses, and the countryside provides a rich, textured setting and gives the reader a strong feel for everyday life in 1793. Her strong character development draws the reader into the plight of the Cook family. It is a gripping story which keeps the reader on the edge of her seat as the plot unfolds.